Keep Your One Year Old Entertained With These Great Toys for Traveling
Traveling with a one-year-old can be a tricky age for a family trip, particularly during the “getting there” phase of travel via a plane or car.
1-year-olds aren’t quite old enough to completely zone out with a tablet, or even if they will watch a show or two, they probably aren’t fans of headphones yet. Plus, they’ve likely just discovered the awe and wonder of walking and don’t like to sit — they want to explore!
I’ve been on many trips with my daughters when they were young toddlers and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about traveling with a 1-year old, it’s that proper preparation is key! This is especially the case when it comes to forms of entertainment while flying or driving. Over the course of many trips, I found some tried and true toys for one year olds that will help to make traveling with the little ones a bit easier.
Below, I’ve listed out my top toy picks for any type of travel with a 1-year-old plus more favorite toys of mine for traveling with a young toddler in a plane, car, or hotel.
My Top 3 Picks for Travel Toys for Young Toddlers
Before I get into specific toys for flying, driving, or staying in a hotel, here are my top three picks for the best toys for travel overall with a 1-year-old. I chose these because they’re easy to pack, they are handy to have on just about any type of trip, and they can provide hours of entertainment for toddlers over the course of the trip.
#1 Indestructible Books
One year olds love books, especially ones they can do what they want with. So I especially love the Indestructibles series of books for travel because they are thin and can be easily shoved in a bag — plus, per the name, they are tear-proof, waterproof, and chew-proof, so they can double as a book to read that you don’t mind turning into a teething toy (or was it just my young toddler that destroyed all her board books by chewing on them??). They’re also ideal for taking to the beach or pool for that reason, too.
This one about things that go is perfect for a trip!
#2 Stuffed Animal with Buckles
Give them a new stuffed animal to hug on the trip and promote sensory skills — while keeping your child entertained — with this adorable penguin stuffie that has buckles for your one year old to practice clasping. There are also numbers and shapes on the penguin’s belly and back to promote more learning opportunities.
#3 Chain Link Toy
Basic round link toys might not seem that special, but it is a hard hitter when it comes to best toys for traveling with a 1-year-old. These toys can be chewed on, they can provide long periods of concentration as your little one tries to link and unlink them, they can be stacked, they can be tossed. But best of all for travel: they can be attached to a carseat or plane tray so you’re not constantly having to pick toys up off the floor!
You can up your chain game by adding something like this into the mix.
Best 1-Year Old Travel Toys for Road Trips
I know a lot of us parents are road tripping these days, and there’s nothing much worse on a road trip (well, besides a car disaster) than a screaming or whining child in the backseat for hours on end. So, here are my favorite toys to bring along on a road trip with a 1-year old to keep them entertained and as quiet as possible (ha!) in the backseat.
Steering Wheel Toy
This Turn and Learn Driver toy has provided our family with endless entertainment. It’s fun on road trips for toddlers because your little one can pretend to be driving, too, plus it has lights and sounds to keep them engaged. This toy goes the distance, too, as they grow. My kids may not be little toddlers anymore, but they still play with this at home when they build car forts and airplanes out of boxes. Well worth the money!
This genius quiet book is soft and easy to hold onto in the car. Plus, it will keep your little one entertained in his or her carseat while figuring out how to navigate each page. This quiet beach helps with sensory skills such as learning how to zip and buckle, and also has activities to teach shapes, numbers, and letters, plus more hands-on activities to keep little ones engaged on long car rides.
Best 1-Year-Old Travel Toys for Airplanes
Oh the joys of flying with a 1-year-old on an airplane. Wait, did I say joy? I mean stress…lots and lots of stress. If you’re like our family, then your one year old little cutie is still a lap baby on the plane. And keeping a child contained on your lap for the duration of a flight is no easy task.
These are the toys and books that I have found most entertained my young toddlers on a plane ride. We even brought my youngest to Italy when she was one! And the flight went about as smoothly as we could hope.
Lift-the-flap books are also great at keeping young toddlers entertained. I recommend them more for airplane rides than road trip since back in a carseat those flaps might be ripped all the way off! This lift-the-flap book about airplanes is perfect for flight entertainment.
My kids also loved this lift-the-flap Pout, Pout, Fish book when they were toddlers.
Sorting Puzzle Toy
This Montessori-style shape sorting puzzle is ideal for plane rides. It fits on the seat tray and the pieces are big enough that (hopefully) you’ll be able to easily find any pieces that fall under the seat. Plus, the carrots are an easy shape for 1-year-olds to grab and easily try to get into each hole on their own, keeping them entertained so you can maybe take a quick mental break from the stress of flying with a toddler! Also, there aren’t sounds so you don’t have to worry about annoying your neighbor.
Fidget Toy for Toddlers
This is another quiet game that doesn’t take up much space and will keep a one-year-old entertained. It’s a fidget bubble “popper” with large bubbles young toddlers can push and play with.
Best 1-Year-Old Travel Toys for Hotel Stays
Now for the hotel or resort or vacation rental stay after you get to your destination. If you’re not staying with family members who (hopefully) already have toys at their house, then you’re going to want to plan for some room in your luggage for something to keep your kid entertained during the downtime in your accommodation.
Also, I don’t bring a ton for this because I inevitably buy a couple souvenirs while traveling for my kids to play with during (and after) the trip. But here are my faves that always got put in the suitcase when I had a 1-year-old traveling with me.
Take-Along Play Mat with Figures
I loved having this toy for hotel stays when my girls were little because it was easy to pack (it folds up and keeps the characters inside) and the built-in play mat provided a playing surface that wasn’t a gross hotel room floor. (You never think about how disgusting hotel room floors probably are until you have a crawler!)
There’s also this version with cars and trucks.
Shape Sorter Toy
Another great hotel toy is a shape sorter that also serves as a toy. I brought one along with me on an Alaska cruise with my 1-year old, during which we stayed in a very small inside stateroom and this toy was great for her to play with in the room and didn’t take up much space. They don’t make the one I brought anymore, but it was similar to this barnyard shape sorter.